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How I Get Through the Beginning of the New Year With Depression

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I have always found the new year difficult. When I was first diagnosed with depression, I would go into the new year with the resolution that this year would be different… this year would be the year I would stop being depressed. Just like that. Simple, or so I thought. Each year, I felt defeated and disappointed in myself. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t merely wish away or resolution away my mental illnesses. It doesn’t work like that. All that resolution did was make me feel worse and much more hopeless. I felt like nothing would ever get better. I’ve since realized I just wasn’t approaching it in a helpful way. I was setting myself up to be hurt; I just didn’t know it.

So, in following years, I became hesitant to make New Year’s resolutions. But my family would pressure me. It was a tradition in my family to sit around the table on New Year’s Eve and talk about what was good about the prior year, as well as what resolutions we had for the next year. Each year, my mother would say that next year would be better; that we’d take care of ourselves more, be happier, be healthier. But when you live with mental illness, it isn’t that easy. Just saying you’ll do something doesn’t make it feasible, as much as I wish it did. For me, all it did was help me sink further into my depression when I realized this year may be different, but that doesn’t mean it would be better or worse. It doesn’t mean my depression or other mental illnesses would magically improve or disappear. It doesn’t mean I won’t have days where all I want to do is cry, where I won’t feel suicidal, where I won’t hate myself, where I won’t feel hopeless and dejected, where I won’t hate the way my body looks, where I won’t have such bad ruminating thoughts that I spiral out of control and lose my sense of reality. I gave a lot of power to New Year’s resolutions because my family gave a lot of power to them. This isn’t to say that resolutions aren’t helpful to some; I just had to realize that they weren’t helpful to me.

It took a lot of years for me to get to the place where I could give myself permission to do what I need to do for myself, to take care of myself – even if that meant going against my family’s tradition and pressure and not making a New Year’s resolution. Going into the new year is hard. For me, it is another year I feel how I feel. It is another year I am still struggling. It is symbolic, but not in a great way. I am trying to transform how I view the new year, but that is still a work in progress. For now, I try to view it like any other day: just get from point A to point B. Survive. And hope that if I survive enough days or years or decades, then eventually, I’ll find myself really living.

These are some statements I tell myself to get through the beginning of the year: It is OK if the New Year is difficult for you. It is OK if you do or don’t make a resolution. It is OK if you struggle. It is OK if you don’t. It is OK if you don’t feel OK. It is OK if you do. It is OK to view the new year differently than others. It is OK to feel hopeful. It is OK to feel hopeless. However you’re doing is OK. We can only do the best we can do on any given day; the New Year is no different. It is just another day, and it too will pass. You will get through this and, eventually, you will thrive in your own way.

Photo by Max Muselmann on Unsplash

Originally published: December 29, 2019
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